In this webinar series, the co-authors of this innovative course show you how to use it to meet the needs of every one of your classes.
Damian Williams presents the first webinar. He explores Roadmap, how teachers can identify the needs of their classes, and shows how the course can help learners achieve their learning objectives as they progress on their learning journeys.
Here’s a snippet from his presentation.
Overcoming the personalization challenge with Roadmap and the GSE
Teachers hear a lot about personalization. It’s a word that makes a lot of sense. Students want a course that’s tailored to their needs—after all, it’s more motivating, relevant, and engaging to learn something that’s based on your interests.
But personalization is also a term that causes teachers to shake their heads in worry or disbelief. How can you possibly personalize a course when you have so many students and a single coursebook?
It’s a conundrum, for sure. But one that the Roadmap series and the Global Scale of English (GSE) help teachers to tackle head on.
Here, I’ll outline how we can help our learners achieve their goals and go further into how personalization can be a central part of your teaching.
Know your learners: Find out what drives them
Before all else, you must get to know your learners. Once you understand what drives and engages them, you can set the right objectives and teach confidently and competently.
The first part of this is understanding the individuals in your classroom. You should learn about their needs, benchmark their abilities, show interest in their hobbies and reasons for studying. It’s also key to bring in their other motivating factors – such as passing an exam or attaining a certain level of English for work.
It’s then crucial to find out what similarities and differences you have within your classes – so you can best serve the needs of your class as a whole.
Different classes at the same level will often have goals that differ quite dramatically. For example, it’s a given that your class needs to develop its grammar and vocabulary. But some groups may want to prioritize their speaking exclusively. Others may want to focus on developing other skills, such as getting their writing up to scratch for formal exams.
Set clear goals and show tangible outcomes
So, with student motivations firmly in mind, you need to map out and set learning goals. Goals help learners forget distractions and see which direction to head in. They also allow for steady, confident progress towards a destination.
Without realistic goals many learners set themselves up for failure and become demotivated. For example, for most learners, progressing from B1 to B2 is not an achievable objective within a single course.
However, if B1 is broken down into a series of milestones, not only does the level feel more manageable, but students can also recognize and celebrate their achievements as they make progress.
Roadmap has been structured in a way to help you define realistic objectives and set up students for success, because each lesson in the series is mapped to clear, tangible goals with communicative outcomes.
By basing the learning objectives on those set out in the GSE, students can clearly see how they are progressing through the course. This leads to higher levels of class satisfaction.
Adapt and personalize your classes
How exactly can you find out what your class wants and work out how best to give them what they need?
In your very first class, ask students to look at the contents page of your course book and get them to highlight the topics they are most interested in and the language or skill areas they want to work on most.
Discuss the results with the class and dig deeper by asking relevant questions. Once you have a general idea of what the class wants to focus on, it will make it easier to pick which lessons you spend more or less time on. Allowing students to have a say in the learning process will also help develop independent learners.
A Dual Track approach
Another aspect of Roadmap which allows teachers to personalize their classes is its flexible structure. The fast track route has four main lessons covering grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, which all lead to a speaking goal. There is then the extended route, which allows students to develop their writing, reading and listening skills, not just practise them. These skills are broken down to sub skills which help prepare learners for the real world.
This dual track approach allows teachers to personalize their teaching depending on the needs of their class. For example, if you have one group which struggles with listening, you can choose elements of the extended route to help them with this. Unlike many other course books, which integrate skills and language, Roadmap makes it easier for teachers to pick and choose the best content for their learners.
The course is designed this way in response to the research we undertook with teachers.
Reflect and help learners see their progress
Learners need space for reflection to review what they’ve learnt and see what they still need to do.
In Roadmap the Check & Reflect pages allow us to do just this and also recycle what’s been learned. We can then see how this translates into tangible goals. All of this helps building confidence, and helps teachers and students track progress.
Personalizing a coursebook exercise
To wrap up, I’d like to leave you with some steps you can follow to personalize an exercise:
Step 1: Give learners time to prepare. Offer guidance on what to think about or take notes on. As part of this we can ask them to do a visualization. For example, rather than just asking learners to describe a room in their house, we can ask them to close their eyes and use their imaginations: imagine you are a teenager and it’s the first day of the summer holidays. The light is shining through the curtains, and you’ve just woken up, thinking about all the adventures you’re going to have. Look around your bedroom. Now describe the room to your partner.
Step 2: Give learners choice and autonomy. Instead of asking them to plan a party, for example, we can give them a range of options for things to plan (a party, a family get-together, a sale, a conference, etc.). Or you can ask them to come up with their own ideas, so long as they use the target language or grammar.
Step 3: Give learners a clear, communicative goal. For example, instead of simply asking them to practice the present perfect, we can ask them to talk about experiences they have or haven’t had. This allows them to draw from the language resources they have available.
Step 4: Give learners an opportunity for reflection on their progress, as well as a chance to think about practical ways to improve in the future.
Engaging with students on a deeper level with Roadmap
Personalization can help us engage students in ways that we haven’t been able to before. Roadmap is structured to help teachers personalize their teaching and start reaping its benefits, together with their students.
Roadmap is a new, eight-level general English course for adults. Engaging, clearly organized and flexible, Roadmap provides teachers with a course that they can adapt to each of their classes.